KIUC seats 2 new board members

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors seated two new members yesterday, filling the vacancies created by resignations in March and April.

Dee Crowell and Ray Paler were sworn in by former Judge Alfred Laureta, whose resignation due to health concerns created one of the vacancies.

Crowell and Paler both served terms as directors that ended in 2007, and it was their experience that made them attractive candidates to fill the two vacant spots until the term ends in early 2009, said Vice Chair Peter Yukimura.

“They know the history, and that’s important. It will make things go a lot smoother because we won’t have to stop and explain what happened to get to this point,” said Yukimura, who filled in as chair yesterday in Dennis Esaki’s absence.

At its May meeting the board used secret ballot to select Crowell and Paler to complete the remaining 10 months of Laureta and Derek Kawakami’s three-year terms. Laureta left the board in March. Kawakami resigned in April to devote more time to a bid for County Council this fall.

Of the six potential replacements identified, including the three runners-up from the most recent board of directors election, only Crowell and Paler had previous KIUC board experience. The decision, while in-line with board policy on how to proceed in such situations, nevertheless met with some disappointment from the community. Leading up to the vote, residents had voiced strong support for Ben Sullivan, the next highest vote-getter from the March election.

Both Crowell and Paler agreed that their understanding of the board’s work will help them acclimate quickly.

“If someone just walked in off the street, the learning curve is very steep. The time and effort for someone to get up to speed is very, very considerable,” Crowell said.

On the issues they expect to face over the next year, the new directors cited cheaper, renewable energy sources.

“It all stems from our dependency on oil. We have to find ways to reduce that dependency,” Crowell said. “I don’t know how much can happen in nine months. It’s not a quick fix, we just have to take one step at a time.”

Paler agreed, saying anxiety about the speed of the transition does not negate “certain things that have to be done.

“Basically, we’d like to move faster, but it’s a process where we have to make sure that everyone is on board. That’s half the battle,” he said.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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